In a split decision, the Zoning Board of
Appeals (ZBA) denied a request for a special permit and variance for a proposed
eight-unit, four-story, market-rate condominium project at 254 Spencer Ave. on
In a 2-2 vote, ZBA members Arthur Arsenault
and Marilyn Vega-Torres voted to okay the project, while members Hugo Perdomo
and Joseph Mahoney voted to deny approvals, siding with the recommendation of
Planning Director John DePriest.
DePriest stated that the conversion of the
existing two-family house to eight units was too large for the site, and that
the developers did not meet the hardship requirements to gain approval for the
special permit and variances.
While the Planning Department recommended no
more than five units on the parcel, a number of neighbors and city officials
came out in support of the project Tuesday night, much as they had done last
month when the project was approved by the Planning Board.
“I would hate to see these units be
abandoned, it is kind of an eyesore right now,” said District 3 City Councillor
Perlatonda noted that the City has recently
approved larger, affordable housing projects, such as at the old Midas site,
and that 254 Spencer Ave. sits next to the 34-unit Acadia affordable housing
“The neighbors want this, I want this, and I
don’t think it should be limited to five units,” said Perlatonda. “It’s a great
project, and I don’t see why we wouldn’t want it right now.”
Richard Lynds, the attorney for developer
Ricky Beliveau, said the four-story condo building would fit into the
neighborhood by serving as a transition from the taller, five-story Acadia
development on one side to the triple-deckers on the other side of 254 Spencer
To make the project work financially, Lynds
said Beliveau needs the eight units at market rate. He said Beliveau would be
investing $2.5 million into the project, with units selling for about $500,000 each.
“Ricky believes in the City of Chelsea,”
said Lynds. “For him to make this type of investment shows where his mind is
and where his wallet is.”
As the special permit and variance failed to
garner the necessary vote, several of the supporters who attended the meeting
voiced their displeasure to the board members and DePriest.
“We are going with what the law is in the
books,” said Mahoney.
After the meeting, Lynds said he and
Beliveau will regroup to see what their next steps are for 254 Spencer Avenue.
“It’s too early to tell what we will do
right now,” he said. “We will look at all of our options.”
Lynds said he was surprised by DePriest’s
staunch vocal opposition to the project.
“This was an
opportunity for good, market-rate units,” said Lynds.
From –happy wheels